5 The Multilateral Trading System and the Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations: An Arab Perspective


The Havana Charter, negotiated during the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment in 1947–48, sought to establish the International Trade Organization (ITO), which was to be the third institutional pillar in the postwar international order for economic reconstruction. The ITO was to be the specialized agency that established rules and oversaw the international trading system. Owing to political factors, the Havana Charter never entered into force, leaving a vacuum in international economic relations at that time in areas such as employment, economic development, trade policy, intergovernmental commodity agreements, restrictive business practices, and settlement of disputes. That vacuum has never been entirely filled. However, one crucial gap—that of trade policy and related settlement of disputes—was filled by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).